The FCC's strategic plan for 2009 - 2014 outlines a path that ensures that an orderly framework exists within which communications products and services can be quickly and reasonably provided to consumers and businesses. Equally important, the plan also addresses the communications aspects of public safety, health, and emergency operations; ensures the universal availability of basic telecommunications service; makes communications services accessible to all people; and protects and informs consumers about their rights. Questions about the 2009 - 2014 strategic plan can be sent to FCCStrategicPlan@fcc.gov
All Americans should have affordable access to robust and reliable broadband products and services. Regulatory policies must promote technological neutrality, competition, investment, and innovation to ensure that broadband service providers have sufficient incentive to develop and offer such products and services.
The term "broadband" refers to advanced communications systems capable of providing high-speed transmission of services such as data, voice, and video over the Internet and other networks. Transmission is provided by a wide range of technologies, including digital subscriber line and fiber optic cable, coaxial cable, wireless technology, and satellite. Broadband platforms make possible the convergence of voice, video, and data services onto a single network.
Broadband technology is a key driver of economic growth. The ability to share large amounts of information at ever-greater speeds increases productivity, facilitates commerce, and drives innovation. Broadband is changing how we communicate with each other, how and where we work, how we educate our children, and how we entertain ourselves. Broadband is particularly critical in rural areas, where advanced communications can shrink the distances that isolate remote communities.
Congress recognized the importance of broadband in Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which directs the FCC to "encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans." The Commission's goals are to:
- Broaden the deployment of broadband technologies
- Define broadband to include any platform capable of transmitting high-bandwidth intensive services
- Ensure harmonized regulatory treatment of competing broadband services
- Encourage and facilitate an environment that stimulates investment and innovation in broadband technologies and services.
Competition in the provision of communications services, both domestically and overseas, supports the Nation's economy. The competitive framework for communications services should foster innovation and offer consumers reliable, meaningful choice in affordable services.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directed the FCC to take action to remove statutory, regulatory, economic, and operational barriers to local telephone services competition. In 1998, the FCC established a framework of national rules. These early rules focused on three entry points for local competition:
- Full facilities-based entry,
- Purchase of unbundled network elements from the incumbent local exchange carrier, and
- Resale of the incumbent's retail services.
Today's focus is on:
- Promoting access to telecommunications services for all Americans.
- Ensuring that American consumers can choose among multiple reliable and affordable communications services.
- Promoting pro-competitive and universal access policies worldwide.
- Working to inform American consumers about their rights and responsibilities in the competitive communications marketplace.
- Enforcing the Commission's rules for the benefit of consumers.
- Foster sustainable competition across the entire telecommunications sector.
- Facilitate a more effective wholesale market through interconnection policy and other competition-related rules.
- Promote and advance universal service.
- Ensure that consumers have choices among communication services and are protected from anti-competitive behavior in the increasingly competitive telecommunications landscape.
- Continually evaluate and report on the competitive environment for communications services.
Efficient and effective use of non-federal spectrum domestically and internationally promotes the growth and rapid deployment of innovative and efficient communications technologies and services.
The promise of emerging communications technologies could mean:
- Having the emergency dispatcher know exactly where your teenager is when he or she has to call for emergency help from a wireless phone (E911);
- Ubiquitous, mobile broadband connections via your Next Generation wireless phone that allow you to be part of a video conference with people around the world while you're traveling; or
- Using the cable modem that's upstairs or printing a document on the color printer that's in the basement – all while you're on the first floor – through wireless networking (Wi-Fi).
These and hundreds of other promising technologies are dependent on one resource – spectrum. Spectrum encompasses the entire range of electromagnetic radio frequencies used in the transmission of sound, data, and video. The FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) share responsibility for managing the spectrum. NTIA manages spectrum used by the Federal government (e.g., air traffic control and national defense) and the FCC is responsible for spectrum used by others, including individuals (e.g., garage door openers and computer modems), private organizations (e.g., radio and television broadcasters), and public safety and health officials (e.g., police and emergency medical technicians).
Because there is a finite amount of spectrum and a growing demand for it, effectively managing the available spectrum is a strategic issue for the FCC and the NTIA.
- Advance spectrum reform by developing and implementing market-oriented allocation and assignment reform policies.
- Vigorously protect against harmful interference and enforce public safety-related rules.
- Conduct effective and timely licensing activities that encourage efficient use of the spectrum.
- Provide adequate spectrum and improve interoperability for better public safety and commercial purposes.
The FCC is responsible for developing and modifying broadcasting and other media rules and policies in order to address changing technologies and changing competition and ownership patterns. The challenges in this area arise from:
- Changing ownership patterns,
- Legal challenges to FCC rules and policies,
- Converging markets and industries, and
- Increasingly rapid changes in technologies employed by service providers.
Consistent with statutory directives, these factors have led the FCC to make rebuilding the factual and analytical foundation of its media ownership regulations and competition policies a top priority. The FCC will examine whether current forms of media regulation are achieving statutory policy objectives and determine how changes in regulations may affect the policy goals of competition, diversity, and localism. A critical aspect of the FCC's responsibility to ensure that the public is served by an efficient and competitive set of media services is the full facilitation of the transition to digital broadcast television.
- Enforce compliance with rules that foster competition and diversity.
- Build and continually update a solid factual and analytic foundation for media ownership regulation.
- Encourage the timely development and deployment of digital services.
Public Safety & Homeland Security
Communications during emergencies and crises must be available for public safety, health, defense, and emergency personnel, as well as all consumers in need. The Nation's critical communications infrastructure must be reliable, interoperable, redundant, and rapidly restorable.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Americans were reminded of the importance of reliable, readily available, and interoperable communications - for emergency personnel responding to the tragedy, for individuals communicating with family and friends, and for the Nation as a whole, anxious to stay informed of ongoing events on a minute-by-minute basis. The telecommunications, broadcast, and cable industries that the Commission regulates are critically important to our national well being in times of crisis. The reliance of numerous other critical industries, including banking, transportation, and energy, on the communications infrastructure further underscores the importance of that infrastructure and the FCC's role in ensuring that it is operational.
To fully and effectively carry out its role in promoting homeland security, network protection, interoperability, redundancy, and reliability, the FCC has established the following strategic objectives:
- Develop policies that promote access to effective communications services in emergency situations by public safety, health, defense, and other emergency personnel, as well as all consumers in need.
- Evaluate and strengthen measures for protecting the Nation's critical communications infrastructure.
- Facilitate rapid restoration of the U.S. communications infrastructure and facilities after disruption by any cause.
- Coordinate with industry and other federal, state, tribal, and local agencies on matters of public safety, homeland security, and disaster management.
- Act swiftly in matters affecting public safety, homeland security, and disaster management.
- Participate in international organizations and conferences to coordinate protection of the global communications infrastructure.
- Visit the Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Website for the most recent releases on this subject.
- Visit the News Archive for previous headlines related to the FCC's Public Safety & Homeland Security Strategic Goal.
Modernize the FCC
The FCC shall strive to be a highly productive, adaptive, and innovative organization that maximizes the benefit to stakeholders, staff, and management from effective systems, processes, resources, and organizational culture.
The FCC has committed itself to making the fundamental changes necessary to become a more responsive, efficient, and effective agency capable of facing the technological and economic opportunities of the new millennium.
While these changes have begun with an agency-wide reorganization and dedication of resources to recruiting, training, equipping, and deploying an expert workforce, much remains to be done as the agency seeks to capitalize on its competencies in:
- Promoting competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and facilities,
- Supporting the Nation's economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution,
- Encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally,
- Revising media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism, and
- Providing leadership in strengthening the defense of the Nation's communications infrastructure.
- Structure the FCC so that it can flexibly respond to Congress, consumers, and the communications industries in a timely manner.
- Provide and sustain mission-critical training and development in order to ensure excellence among a diverse and expert staff.
- Offer employees educational and advancement opportunities.